Thursday, March 31, 2011

A.A. Milne: The Red House

I read this on my phone as an eBook, and here's the link to Project Gutenberg's versions of it. Yay eBooks! It's a bit stupid writing eBooks though. I have to start rebelling against the minuscule as initial trend. Ebooks. Ebooks. Now that wasn't so hard, was it.
I had no idea that Milne had ever written a mystery novel at all - hardly surprisingly I knew him only as the author of children's books, although I had an idea that he'd written other stuff before that. After reading The Red House I'm a little baffled and sort of wish he'd written more than this one, so I could have gotten a better handle on his style.

Mark Ablett is a wealthy, control-freak bachelor who prides himself on his house-parties. During one (with the usual amount of motley guests), he is found shot. Interestingly, unlike many stories of this type, most of the guests are obviously not suspects since they were off playing golf. Instead we quickly home in on Ablett's cousin Matthew Cayley, who is also his secretary, confidante, protegé and, we soon see, all but prisoner (control-freak, remember). The detective is a random passer-by, Antony Gillingham, who only stopped at The Red House to see an old friend whom he's heard was staying there, Bill Beverly. Gillingham is an odd character, part charming gentleman, part fecking sociopath (don't worry, there's no gruesomeness, he just behaves strangely - I mean for the genre and the age). Gillingham and Beverly stay on at the Red House and try to solve the mystery. It's a fairly good story, slightly implausible mind, but it keeps you guessing. Anway, it's mostly Gillingham that makes me sorry there are no more books, he's a very unusual sort of detective character, both too normal (not quirky enough) and too different. Again, were I a scholar I'd analyse this more, but I'm not so I won't. Recommended, despite the story having some holes.

No comments: